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How ESG Factors Align with B Corp Values

By Business, Uncategorized

B Corps Speak to Business Benefits of Environmental, Social, and Governance Impact Improvement

The investment and business philosophy that takes into consideration a company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors has become a focus of U.S. policy debate in recent years. While some policymakers are pushing for policies and laws to limit the use of ESG factors in business or investment decisions, others advocate for protections of ESG considerations for risk management and resiliency.

This includes action at the federal level, where the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently finalized a rule clarifying that, under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, retirement fund managers may consider ESG factors as part of their investment strategy. This reversed a previous DOL rule that restricted the practice. Congressional Republicans, joined by a small number of Democrats, passed legislation that would have repealed the latest DOL rule, but this was vetoed by President Biden. In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission is finalizing a new rule that would require most publicly traded companies to disclose certain climate-related information, including carbon emissions and other climate-related financial risks. This rule is expected to be announced this year and likely will be the subject of legislation and litigation to prevent it from taking effect.

While the policy debate looks likely to continue, companies across the United States are demonstrating how the risk-reducing values behind ESG consideration also help create long-termbottom-line benefits. Investors looking to build more resilient, risk-averse portfolios also are incorporating ESG considerations into investment processes.

Some businesses are going beyond ESG factors to create positive social and environmental impact on stakeholders beyond shareholders — treating employees fairly, creating good jobs, operating sustainability, and contributing to local communities — while also producing a profit. This includes the more than 2,000 Certified B Corporations in the United States, the majority of which are small-to-midsized companies with a stakeholder business model that incorporates and goes beyond ESG considerations to focus on positive impact. What that means in practice varies by company, but the common mission is to value people and the planet as well as profit and to sustain the company’s mission and positive impact.

In industries ranging from seafood to finance to travel and leisure and beyond, the B Corps highlighted in this article share how a focus on ESG impact improvement helps them create more resilient businesses and connections with their workers, customers, and communities.

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ESG Factors Drive Decision-Making and Business Growth

B Corps speaking up to share the benefits of ESG considerations with policymakers include Luke’s Lobster, a family-owned Maine seafood business with an online market and restaurants in the United States and Asia. Co-Founder Ben Conniff recently shared testimony with a Maine legislative committee considering legislation that would prevent ESG considerations in the investment of Maine Public Employees Retirement System funds.

With more than 250 workers in Maine, Luke’s Lobster processes about 5 million pounds of lobster per year. In his testimony, Conniff said the B Corp also produces a positive impact on its stakeholders, including the environment and workers. “This type of decision-making has made us profitable and enabled our rapid business growth over 13-plus years,” he said. “This type of decision-making allowed us to survive COVID. This type of decision-making is the reason we are one of the only restaurants in Maine with enough employees to be open seven days a week.”

The proposed Maine legislation on preventing ESG considerations for public employee retirement funds would alter Luke Lobster’s business model and harm its bottom line, Conniff said.

“I am certain that if we operated with the goal of maximizing shareholder value by paying our team and suppliers as little as possible, charging our customers as much as possible, and operating in a way that damages our surrounding environment, we would long ago have gone out of business,” Conniff said. “The fact is that considering environmental, social, and governance factors in your business is synonymous with smart long-term financial strategy. Folks who ignore these considerations do so at their own peril, and the peril of their investors.”

Through the years, Luke’s Lobster has proven the worth of its business model to institutional investors, he said. “They know that history has shown that companies who perform well in these impact areas also typically outperform their competitors financially and are therefore better investments,” he said. “This means we’ve gotten more investment dollars while retaining more family ownership of our business, which has propelled our growth and profit while allowing us to double down on the positive impact we have on our community. It’s a virtuous cycle that has allowed us to make Maine stronger.”

Speaking to policymakers on the federal level, California-based Beneficial State Bank CEO Randell Leach said in a recent op-ed in The Hill that financial markets are increasingly recognizing the value of acting in alignment with a broader set of stakeholders. “Why have more and more businesses integrated environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria into their models over the last decades? The answer is that they are simply aligning their resources with their stakeholders’ interests — which is efficient, profitable, and both economically and environmentally beneficial,” he said.

With locations in California, Oregon, and Washington, Beneficial State Bank offers stakeholder-driven financial services with a commitment to using deposits to support communities and the planet. Leach said the B Corp aims to prompt others in the financial industry to see the bottom-line benefits of positive social and environmental impact.

“Burying your head in the sand is not a viable approach in a market with finite natural and human resources, changing consumer demands, and increasing climate risk,” Leach said. “Companies that prioritize social and environmental impacts while still generating returns for their shareholders are a model that we should applaud and replicate.”

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A new impact economy is being built, one where businesses prioritize and consider their impact on all the stakeholders they impact — including communities, workers, customers, and the environment. This free report shares how the stakeholder model as practiced by B Corps is gaining global traction and validation.

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How ESG Factors Can Drive Resilient Business and Investment Value

B Corps in the financial industry have seen the holistic value of ESG factors over time. Tripp Baird, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of The Builders Fund, said ESG considerations are a framework for the B Corp’s investments to build a better world and a resilient portfolio. The fund partners with companies whose business models address environmental and social challenges. Its current investments include Acelero Learning, an outcomes-driven early childhood education platform; PosiGen, a residential solar and energy efficiency provider for low- to moderate-income families; and B Corp Traditional Medicinals, a wellness tea company that nurtures connections with the herb-sourcing communities in its supply chain.

“In our experience, purpose-built companies can outperform their peers by leveraging their mission and values to attract and retain talent, increase employee and consumer engagement, earn media, drive customer loyalty, and lower their cost of customer acquisition,” Baird said.

“We believe incorporating better operating practices while considering ESG risk factors makes us better fiduciaries of our investors’ money, and that improvements on these dimensions drive better decision-making and, ultimately, better returns.”

In its investments with private companies, Builders Fund works with management teams to create economic and stakeholder value, Baird said. This includes filling board seats that help drive strategic decision-making. “In Builders’ experience, an engaged and dynamic board of directors and advisors can amplify organizational purpose and ESG priorities, holding the tension between long-term aspirations and short-term realities, as well as integrating the perspectives of multiple stakeholders,” he said.

With each investment, Baird said Builders Fund works to create programs to share equity value creation with the management teams and employees. “These profit pools create and maintain economic value for those who are most integral to the success of the company and add value on top of living wages, health care coverage, paid parental leave, and other bonuses and benefits,” he said.

Internally, Builders Fund uses the B Impact Assessment to set baseline standards, track progress toward goals, and aggregate impact across investments, said Amelia Ahl, Director of Impact. The values of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion guide its approach in selecting partners and supporting leadership at portfolio companies. “We believe that equitable and inclusive practices are not only better for businesses and people alike, but also demonstrably improve performance,” Ahl said. “Our hiring process ensures that a representative cross-section of the population is interviewed for any open position.”

How B Corp Measurements Hone Business Focus on ESG Impact

“I think of B Corp measurements as business measurements of our humanity,” said Jared Meyers, Chairman of Legacy Vacation Resorts (LVR), a Florida-based B Corp that operates family resorts in four states. He said these measurements of humanity are embedded in several of the company’s policies and practices:

  • Making sure employees can afford rent, clothing, and food through a living wage reflects caring for a fellow human being.
  • Ensuring customers can travel with significantly less harm to the environment demonstrates business responsibility instead of shifting the burden to them.
  • Volunteering and supporting Destination Stewardship principles demonstrates to communities that LVR exists to lift them up rather than to profit from them through exploitation.

“These are all B Corp values that the B Corp Impact Assessment has helped us strengthen through measurement and focus,” Meyers said, adding that LVR has been able to establish stronger connections with stakeholders as a B Corp that operates with compassion and reciprocity, offering values-aligned workplaces and products. “When we care for each other, our relationships grow, and when we make our business culture about caring, we create a bond with our stakeholders that delivers true belonging, appreciation, and a shared prosperity. These underpinnings have led to our resilience and our incredible financial success these past few years.”

LVR and other Florida companies share ESG best practices and lessons as part of Florida for Good, a state network of B Corps and other purpose-driven businesses. They include Ocquatics Swim School, where Founder Miren Oca said gaining B Corp Certification formalized the company’s commitment to ESG principles. “As a small business, Ocaquatics has chosen to adopt the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as our framework for working toward social and environmental sustainability,” she said. “We start with small, achievable goals and actions.”

The company’s 2022 Impact Report serves as a public record of its commitment to and progress on the SDGs, Oca said, with other resources the B Corp shares in encouraging its stakeholders to follow suit. “We lead by example and amplify the impact of our actions through communications to our families and the community, and with our social media voice,” she says. “We educate and inspire our team members and families to work toward the SDGs at home and in the community.”

Consumers care about sustainability—and back it up with their wallets. A recent joint study from McKinsey and NielsenIQ examines sales growth for products that claim to be environmentally and socially responsible.

By Business, Uncategorized

Total US consumer spending accounts for over $14 trillion annually and two-thirds of the US GDP. An important subset of this spending goes toward everyday consumer packaged goods (CPG), ranging from foods and beverages to cosmetics and cleaning products. The sheer size of the CPG sector—with millions of employees and trillions of dollars in annual sales—makes it a critical component in efforts to build a more sustainable, inclusive economy.

CPG companies increasingly allocate time, attention, and resources to instill environmental and social responsibility into their business practices. They are also making claims about environmental and social responsibility on their product labels. The results have been evident: walk down the aisle of any grocery or drugstore these days and you’re bound to see products labeled “environmentally sustainable,” “eco-friendly,” “fair trade,” or other designations related to aspects of environmental and social responsibility. Most important is what lies behind these product claims—the actual contribution of such business practices to achieving goals such as reducing carbon emissions across value chains, offering fair wages and working practices to employees, and supporting diversity and inclusion. But understanding how customers respond to social and environmental claims is also important and has not been clear in the past.

When consumers are asked if they care about buying environmentally and ethically sustainable products, they overwhelmingly answer yes: in a 2020 McKinsey US consumer sentiment survey, more than 60 percent of respondents said they’d pay more for a product with sustainable packaging. A recent study by NielsenIQ found that 78 percent of US consumers say that a sustainable lifestyle is important to them. Yet many CPG executives report that one challenge to their companies’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives is the inability to generate sufficient consumer demand for these products. There are many stories of companies launching new products incorporating ESG-related claims only to find that sales fell short of expectations.

How can both of these things be true? Do consumers really care whether products incorporate ESG-related claims? Do shoppers follow through and buy these products while standing in front of store shelves or browsing online? Do their real-life buying decisions diverge from their stated preferences? The potential costs—particularly in an inflationary context—of manufacturing and certifying products that make good on ESG-related claims are high. Accurately assessing demand for products that make these claims is vital as companies think about where to make ESG-related investments across their businesses. Companies should therefore be eager to better understand whether and how these types of claims influence consumers’ purchasing decisions. Is a shopper more likely to purchase a product if there’s an ESG-related claim printed on its package? What about multiple claims? Are some kinds of claims more resonant than others? Does a claim matter more if it’s appended to a pricier product? Is it less meaningful if it comes from a big, established brand?

Over the past several months, McKinsey and NielsenIQ undertook an extensive study seeking to answer these and other questions. We looked beyond the self-reported intentions of US consumers and examined their actual spending behavior—tracking dollars instead of sentiment. The result, for CPG companies, is a fact-based case for bringing environmentally and socially responsible products to market as part of overall ESG strategies and commitments. Creating such products turns out to be not just a moral imperative but also a solid business decision.

Products making ESG-related claims averaged 28 percent cumulative growth over the past five-year period, versus 20 percent for products that made no such claims.

To be clear, this is only a first step in understanding the complex question of how consumers value brands and products that incorporate ESG-related claims. This work has significant limitations that merit mention at the outset.

First, although this study examines how the sales growth of products that feature ESG-related claims fared relative to similar products without such claims,1 it does not demonstrate a causal relationship that definitively indicates whether consumers bought these brands because of the ESG-related claims or for other reasons. For instance, the study does not control for factors such as marketing investments, distribution, and promotional activity. It primarily explores the correlation between ESG-related claims and sales performance.

Second, McKinsey and NielsenIQ did not attempt to independently assess the veracity of ESG-related claims for these products. It is of course paramount for the development of a sustainable and inclusive economy that companies back any ESG-related claims they make with genuine actions. “Greenwashing”—empty or misleading claims about the environmental or social merits of a product or service—poses reputational risks to businesses by eroding the trust of consumers. It also compromises their ability to make more environmentally and socially responsible choices, and potentially undermines the role of regulators. This research is limited to assessing how ESG-related claims correlate with purchasing behavior.

Our approach: Getting granular with ESG in store aisles

In collaboration with NielsenIQ, McKinsey analyzed five years of US sales data, from 2017 to June 2022. The data covered 600,000 individual product SKUs representing $400 billion in annual retail revenues. These products came from 44,000 brands across 32 food, beverage, personal-care, and household categories.

Converting Your Business To An Environmentally Sustainable One

By Business, Uncategorized

Years ago, the book, “Let My People Go Surfing,” by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of the clothing company Patagonia, inspired Ken LaRoe, CEO Climate First Bank to change the way I live my life and how I run a business. I’m hoping you are ready to change the way you run your business or organization, too. I’m hoping you are ready to convert it to an environmentally sustainable one.  According to a recent study by Accenture, your customers are ready for you to do it:

  • 66% of consumers plan to make more sustainable or ethical purchases over the next six months.
  • 74% of consumers believe that ethical corporate practices and values are an important reason to choose a brand.

The same study says your company revenue is ready for you to convert:

  • 81% of sustainable indices outperformed their peer benchmarks in 2020.

According to a 2019 report from Nielsen, Your employees are ready for it, too:

  • Nearly 40% of employees prefer to work at environmentally friendly companies.

Whatever is holding you back, have the courage to set it aside and use this blog post as inspiration to move forward.  By operating more sustainably, you can have a positive environmental and societal impact all while delivering greater financial value. Each business is different, but there are a couple of elements that most share including a physical facility of some sort, even if it’s your home, and a product or service the business provides to its clients.

Let’s start with the physical facility. Many of the recommendations I made in my last blog about converting your home to an environmentally friendly one apply here.  You’ll help your clients, community and the planet, and you’ll help yourself reduce business costs.  I’ll name a few areas to address, but you can see more details and information available in my last blog post, “Converting to an Environmentally Sustainable Home”.

  • Heating & air conditioning
  • Dual-paned windows
  • Insulation
  • Lighting
  • Water usage reduction
  • Solar panels

Recycling

Many people think commercial businesses can’t get weekly recycling pick-up, but that’s not true. Start by reaching out to your local city or county government to see what they offer. If they don’t offer it, then you may need reach out to a private company. When First Green Bank was up and running, local government didn’t provide recycling on-site, but our employees were so dedicated that they collected it and took it home for pick-up curbside. Whatever service you end up using, make it easy for your employees and customers to recycle at your place of business by supplying visible collection bins. The lesson is, where there’s a will there’s a way.

O-Town Compost

Composting

Many experts say recycling was just a steppingstone to a more evolved process – composting. I’m persuaded they are right. You can only recycle plastic products once or twice before the plastic becomes unusable, and then may end up in a landfill. On the other hand, the biodegradable and compostable cups, utensils, straws, paper products and trash can liners we use at the bank that are supplied by O-Town Compost can be remade indefinitely. It’s several times less expensive to compost materials than to recycle them. Compostable materials are produced from natural sources like corn starch, sugar cane, and canola oil in a carbon neutral process.  Conversely, the production of traditional plastic materials releases a variety of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. And, the best thing about composting is you don’t need a industrial plant, just your own backyard, to do it.

Production

Production materials are a critical area to consider as you reduce waste and your carbon footprint.  Every business and office can embrace the digital world and go paperless. There’s almost no need to use paper any longer.

Restaurants should look at alternatives to Styrofoam packaging for to-go orders and find alternatives for plastic eating utensils and straws like the compostable materials mentioned above. Organizations like Foodprint Group can help you use better inventory management and donation practices to reduce food waste to zero and cut costs by nearly $2,000 a year. This means less food is needed, none of it goes to the landfill, and hunger is reduced.

Retailers can stop selling items that aren’t packaged using recycled and recyclable materials. They can stop offering their customers plastic bags at checkout. They can provide recycling services to their customers for the products they sell them and the batteries they use.

One of the most effective things construction industry businesses can do is reduce mistakes. It may sound overly simple, but if you find your crews are frequently cutting incorrectly or using the wrong pipe or piece of lumber, you need to get to put a stop to it – it’s hurting the environment and costing you money. Make sure plans are precise and material orders follow suit. Use only responsibly sourced materials. Store them well – evenly stacked and protected from the elements. Make sure they are secure as well, as theft is increasingly common.

Landscaping companies have great opportunities to reduce carbon emissions and water usage. First, you can encourage customers to engage in xeriscaping, which in Florida means beautiful designs with native plants that require little (if any) water or fertilizer. It also takes into account the delicate balance of aquatic ecology for buildings and structures close to water. You can also make sure to compost lawn clippings and bush and tree trimmings.  Finally, amazing advances in battery technology now make it possible to meet your need for all-day performance on a single charge.  Avoid gas-powered equipment and find ways to use electric powered lawn equipment whenever possible.

Supply Chain

Don’t stop your efforts with what happens on-site with your own company. Expand your efforts to your supply chain as well including suppliers, vendors, partners, etc. Find companies and business partners that share your values. Ask to review their operations. Confirm they have earned key certifications. Keep a list of these companies and prioritize using their services and raw materials.

Chemical Management

An often-overlooked area is chemical management. What chemicals are being used to clean and maintain your facility? If you are a small business and you and your employees do this work yourselves, then strive to use green cleaning products as well as non-chemical products for pest control and weed management. If you hire a cleaning service, make sure you review their chemicals and practices and demand that they conform to your values. If they aren’t willing to adapt to your requirements, then find a service that will – there are more and more services that share our values, you just need to look.

Vehicles/Transportation

Look for ways to reduce vehicle miles such as carpooling, telecommuting and teleconferencing. Use electric vehicles as company vehicles and incentivize employees and clients to use them, too. At Climate First Bank, our offices feature electric vehicle charging stations that employees and customers can use for free. Businesses can also reward employees who bike to work or take public transportation.

Corporate Policy

Make sure your business leaders and line employees know all of these practices aren’t the latest fad, but the de facto way your company conducts business. Incorporate these approaches into official company policy. Make it part of regular employee training. Hold leaders and employees accountable for living these policies in performance reviews.

B Corp

Certifications and Industry Groups

You are not alone in your quest to convert your business to an environmentally sustainable one. There are some incredible organizations that can help you set the right goals, create a plan and execute it. Here are a few organizations that Climate First Bank is affiliated with and whose leaders I have known for years:

Engaging with these groups will also help you find other like-minded business owners and leaders who can share insights and tips with you and help you find the drive to keep going, especially when facing difficult challenges. There’s so much more I could share, but I’ve given you a great head start on your research and information gathering, the rest is up to you. Good luck! Can’t wait for you to email me your stories of transformation so I can use them in future blog posts to inspire others.

Florida projects selected under the first pool of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding.

By Environmental, Uncategorized

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Biden-Harris Administration through the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing up to $2.8 billion in 70 selected projects under the first pool of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding opportunity, with projects from the second funding pool to be announced later this year. Ultimately, USDA’s anticipated investment will triple to more than $3 billion in pilots that will create market opportunities for American commodities produced using climate-smart production practices. These initial projects will expand markets for climate-smart commodities, leverage the greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart commodity production and provide direct, meaningful benefits to production agriculture, including for small and underserved producers. Applicants submitted more than 450 project proposals in this first funding pool, and the strength of the projects identified led USDA to increase its investment in this opportunity from the initial $1 billion Vilsack announced earlier this year.

“There is strong and growing interest in the private sector and among consumers for food that is grown in a climate-friendly way,” said Vilsack. “Through today’s announcement of initial selections for the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, USDA is delivering on our promise to build and expand these market opportunities for American agriculture and be global leaders in climate-smart agricultural production. This effort will increase the competitive advantage of U.S. agriculture both domestically and internationally, build wealth that stays in rural communities and support a diverse range of producers and operation types.”

Earlier this year, Vilsack announced that USDA had allocated $1 billion for the program, divided into two funding pools. Because of the unprecedented demand and interest in the program, and potential for meaningful opportunities to benefit producers through the proposals, the Biden-Harris administration increased the total funding allocation to more than $3 billion, with projects from the second funding pool to be announced later this year. Vilsack made the announcement from the campus of Penn State University, which is the lead partner on one of the selected pilot projects to implement climate-smart practices, quantify and track the greenhouse gas benefits and develop markets for the resulting climate-smart commodities.

Funding for Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities will be delivered through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation in two pools. Projects announced today are from the first funding pool, which included proposals seeking funds ranging from $5 million to $100 million. USDA received over 450 proposals from more than 350 entities for this funding pool, including nonprofit organizations; for-profits and government entities; farmer cooperatives; conservation, energy and environmental groups; state, tribal and local governments; universities (including minority serving institutions); small businesses; and large corporations. Applications covered every state in the nation as well as tribal lands, D.C. and Puerto Rico. The tentative selections announced today reflect this broad set of applicants and geographic scope, and the proposals include plans to match on average over 50% of the federal investment with nonfederal funds.

USDA will work with the applicants for the 70 identified projects to finalize the scope and funding levels in the coming months. A complete list of projects identified for this first round of funding is available at usda.gov/climate-smart-commodities. These include:

  • Climate-Smart Agriculture Innovative Finance Initiative: This project, which will cover more than 30 states, will use innovative finance mechanisms to accelerate climate-smart practice uptake by farmers, leveraging private sector demand to strengthen markets for climate-smart commodities. A broad array of partners will provide technical assistance and additional financial incentives to a diverse array of producers across a broad range of commodities, tying climate-smart practice to commodity purchases and creating a scalable model for private sector investment. Lead partner: Field to Market
  • Scaling Methane Emissions Reductions and Soil Carbon Sequestration: Through this project, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) climate-smart pilots will directly connect the on-farm greenhouse gas reductions with the low-carbon dairy market opportunity. DFA will use its cooperative business model to ensure that the collective financial benefits are captured at the farm, creating a compelling opportunity to establish a powerful self-sustaining circular economy model benefiting U.S. agriculture, including underserved producers. Lead partner: Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.
  • The Soil Inventory Project Partnership for Impact and Demand: This project will build climate-smart markets, streamline field data collection and combine sample results with modeling to make impact quantifications accurate and locally specific but also scalable. Targeted farms produce value-added and direct-to-consumer specialty crops as well as the 19 most common row crops in the United States. Lead partner: The Meridian Institute
  • The Grass is Greener on the Other Side: Developing Climate-Smart Beef and Bison Commodities: This project will create market opportunities for beef and bison producers who utilize climate-smart agriculture grazing and land management practices. The project will guide and educate producers on climate-smart practices most suited for their operations, manage large-scale climate-smart data that will be used by producers to improve decision-making, and directly impact market demand for climate-smart beef/bison commodity markets. Lead university: South Dakota State University
  • Traceable Reforestation for America’s Carbon and Timber: This project builds climate-smart markets for timber and forest products and addresses the need to expand and recover the nation’s forest estate to balance the demand for wood products with the increasing need for forests to serve as carbon reservoirs. The project will deploy funding, planning, and implementation of reforestation and afforestation activities in lands deforested by wildfire in the Western U.S. and degraded agricultural lands in the Southern U.S. Every acre planted and the volume of forest products generated will have a quantified and verified climate benefit in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e). Lead partner: Oregon Climate Trust

Spanning up to five years, these 70 projects will:

  • Provide technical and financial assistance to producers to implement climate-smart production practices on a voluntary basis on working lands;
  • Pilot innovative and cost-effective methods for quantification, monitoring, reporting and verification of greenhouse gas benefits; and
  • Develop markets and promote the resulting climate-smart commodities.

The projects announced today will deliver significant impacts for producers and communities nationwide. USDA anticipates that these projects will result in:

  • Hundreds of expanded markets and revenue streams for producers and commodities across agriculture ranging from traditional corn to specialty crops.
  • More than 50,000 farms reached, encompassing more than 20-25 million acres of working land engaged in climate-smart production practices such as cover crops, no-till and nutrient management.
  • More than 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent sequestered over the lives of the projects. This is equivalent to removing more than 10 million gasoline-powered passenger vehicles from the road for one year.
  • More than 50 universities, including multiple minority-serving institutions, engaged and helping advance projects, especially with outreach and monitoring, measurement, reporting and verification.
  • Proposals for the 70 selected projects include plans to match on average over 50% of the federal investment with nonfederal funds.

Projects were selected based on a range of criteria, with emphasis placed on greenhouse gas and/or carbon sequestration benefits and equity. The Notice of Funding Opportunity included a complete set of project proposal requirements and evaluation criteria.

USDA is currently evaluating project proposals from the second Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding pool, which includes funding requests from $250,000 to $4,999,999. Projects from this second funding pool will emphasize the enrollment of small and/or underserved producers, and/or monitoring, reporting and verification activities developed at minority-serving institutions. USDA expects to announce these selections later this Fall.

More Information

Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities is part of USDA’s broader strategy to position agriculture and forestry as leaders in climate change mitigation through voluntary, incentive-based, market-driven approaches. Visit usda.gov/climate-smart-commodities to learn more about this effort, and usda.gov/climate-solutions for climate-related updates, resources and tools across the Department.

Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our Nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including State, local and Tribal governments.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

Protecting ‘real’ Florida means embracing smarter growth

By Uncategorized

“Environmentalism doesn’t always mean don’t build anything. It just means do it smarter.”

Like the flick of an aperture, Will Dunaway snaps back to visions of his grandmother’s Hillsborough County chicken farm.

A slow pan down a dirt road. The heavy smell of sun-punished hen houses. An oak silhouette dripping with moss, standing colossal, lonely and sacred in a hot pasture.

There’s a stream. And beyond the stream, Dunaway remembers the wilderness. Infinity. Forever. A green vastness that wrapped the tiny farm — sweating, breathing and watching from beyond that stream. It was Florida.

Read more on USA Today